Module Catalogue 2024/25

HIS2219 : Oral History and Memory

HIS2219 : Oral History and Memory

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Sarah Campbell
  • Lecturer: Dr Benjamin Houston
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



Memories are living history and over the past seventy years, oral history has transformed the practice of contemporary history in many countries. This module will provide an overview of the historical development of oral history as a research method for historians, develop students’ awareness of memory as a historical source and explore the changing uses of both since the 1950s. Through the use of a theme each year, students will examine the possibilities of using oral history as a way of understanding the past; develop an awareness of the ethical and practical issues involved and develop skills required to research, design, manage and undertake oral history interviews either in person or remotely.

There is a practical oral history project component to this module. You will work as part of a group on a topic related to a theme in contemporary history (there will be a theme each year) and conduct an oral history interview. This element of the module will provide you with experience in interviewing, transcribing, and analysis of oral histories, as well as exploring how they could be used in public histories.

The aims of this module are:
-       To introduce students to the benefits and ethical challenges of using oral history as a methodology;
-       To help students to understand the challenges of combining theory and practice through the first-hand experience of interviewing;
-       To introduce students to recent historical research and to guide them in the analysis of theories and texts;
-       To give students the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of recent history;
-       To give students an awareness of recording technologies and transcription;
-       To guide students in planning and accomplishing a successful oral history project.

Outline Of Syllabus

The following is a guide only. Actual subjects may differ from those listed.

Topics may include:
What is oral history? (and how has it developed?)
The ethics of oral history      
Understanding historical memory
Doing oral history: designing and planning
Conducting a successful interview: Recording and transcribing
After the interview: analysing and interpretation
Using oral history in public
Reflecting on oral histories

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Having taken this module, students will understand:

- the emergence of oral history as a field within the discipline of history;
- the concept of social memory and its relationship to the field of oral history;
- a specified theme of recent British history and how this can be accessed through oral history.

Intended Skill Outcomes

At the end of the module, students should be able to:

- understand the benefits and ethical challenges of using oral history as a methodology;
- understand the challenges of combining theory and practice through the first-hand experience of interviewing;
- Synthesise secondary sources and theories;
- Understand recording technologies and how to transcribe;
- Plan and accomplish a successful oral history project.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture11:001:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture52:0010:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion133:0033:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading114:0044:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching12:002:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops31:003:00Workshops on skills, ethics, etc
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00Workshop on skills, ethics etc
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork23:006:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity83:0024:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study166:0066:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures impart core knowledge and provide an outline for further knowledge acquisition by the students themselves.Lectures allow students to develop skills in comprehension and note-taking. They explain key historical concepts and identify historical debates and points of contention. They introduce a range of oral testimonies appropriate to the module. Lectures also facilitate the critical appreciation of such sources.

Workshops explore oral history skills, ethics and working with recording equipment. It will be workshop style of working in groups and practising skills.

Fieldwork allows students to engage reflectively with the practice of oral history and interviewing.

Group activity and project work allows for students in a peer context to articulate and consolidate their understanding of the theme of the module and the practice of oral history.

Seminars allow students to discuss and assimilate understanding of oral history, memory and the specified theme of British history.

Drop-in surgery will allow students explore and test their knowledge of oral history and social memory prior to assessment.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A502000 words
Portfolio1M50Group work - conducting an interview and transcribing it.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prof skill assessmnt1MPractising interview skills in small groups
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The project work and its presentation are specifically designed to encourage the students to develop and to test, skills that will be invaluable in collaborative oral history projects and disseminating their results.

The essay tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes and develops key skills in research, reading and writing in relation to oral history, social memory and the specified theme of British history. Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress.

The formative assessment will be practical and will include practising interview skills with peers, doing mock interviews, etc.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. Where an exam is present, an alternative form of assessment will be set and where coursework is present, an alternative deadline will be set. Details of the alternative assessment will be provided by the module leader.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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